Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya

Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
The furoshiki wrapping cloth is both utilitarian and beautiful. In daily life it is used to wrap and carry lunch boxes to work or picnics and on special occasions for wrapping gifts of food and drink.

We want to do some articles that examine the other, non-edible things that are a distinct part of Japanese culinary culture. Meet the furoshiki ‘wrapping cloth’, it is convenient, versatile, reusable, very eco-friendly and of course uniquely beautiful.

History and Development of the Furoshiki
From ancient times, Japanese used a square cloth, called hirazutsumi for wrapping and carrying goods. The oldest example in existence is from Nara period (710-794) and is in the treasure house of the Shosoin Imperial Repository located in Nara city. Nara was the capital of Japan before Kyoto.

The modern word, furoshiki means ‘bath cloth’ and is from the Edo period (1603-1868) because people used a furoshiki to carry their personal affects to and from the public bath. Throughout history the furoshiki was probably most often used by merchants to carry goods and wares to market. The modern furoshiki, while still an utilitarian object is also a thing of beauty and is often used as a wrapping for gifts. Smaller furoshiki are often used by people to carry their bento lunchbox to work. The furoshiki is now a popular alternative to throwaway shopping bags. Cotton and silk furoshiki are still most common, but now synthetic fabrics are also popular for their durability and ease to clean. The Japanese government has even initiated this project to promote the furoshiki to the wider world as a way to reduce waste.

Karakusaya Furoshiki Store
We were given some demonstrations at Karakusaya, a furoshiki store owned by one of Kyoto’s oldest and largest furoshiki producers.

Karakusaya is located in central Kyoto within walking distance of many of Kyoto’s famous ryokan such as Sumiya Ryokan, Hiiragiya Ryokan, and Tawaraya Ryokan. Okura Hotel is also nearby.

As furoshiki are moderately priced, light-weight and unbreakable, they also make excellent gifts to take back home. If you don’t think that you can master the knots, you can still use them as a table cloth. If you would like to learn the wrapping and knotting techniques, you can stop in at Karakusaya for a free of charge lesson!

Beautifully Wrapped Sake Bottle
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

Furoshiki Wrapping Gourd-shaped Sake Bottle

The furoshiki enables you to wrap things of nearly any shape.

Wrapping Picnic Lunch
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
The furoshiki can wrap multiple, oddly shaped things into a single secure and easy to carry package.

Beautifully Wrapped Picnic Lunch
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
The utilitarian furoshiki is becomes a beautiful creation when tied.

How for Fold and Tie Instruction Manual
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
Karakusaya offers some English language guidance on the techniques needed to be a furoshiki master.

The Store

Karakusaya Manager
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
Notice the contemporary colored furoshiki in the background.

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
Contemporary colors

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
This is the karakusa, or ivy motif, very important in Japanese culture.

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
Wrapped wine bottle

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
This series is Peko’s favorite.

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
More traditional patterns and motifs.

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

Products on Store Shelves
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)
Contemporary colors and mofits

Furoshiki Wrapping and Tying Video Demonstrations

Furoshiki Wrapping Two Sake Bottles

Furoshiki Wrapping Isshobin Sake Bottle

Furoshiki Wrapping Shoulder Bag

Furoshiki Wrapping Handbag

Karakusaya Storefront
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

English:
English brochure: yes
English website: none
Japanese language site: Miyai Corporate Site | How to Tie (excellent images)
Service/Staff: friendly with free furoshiki wrapping lessons
Hours: 10am-6pm, closed Monday and Tuesday
Location and Access:
Address: Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku, Muromachi Rokkaku-sagaru Funayama-cho 510
(京都市中京区室町六角下ル鯉山町510番地)
Telephone: 075-221-0390

Map:

View Larger Map

Picnic with Furoshiki

Paku, a true furoshiki lover took us for a picnic at the Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace grounds to demonstrate the multiple uses that the furoshiki can be put to. She wrapped our picnic lunch, transported it and then we used the same furoshiki to sit on while we had our lunch. We of course took our shoes off.

Picnic with Furoshiki
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

Picnic with Furoshiki
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

Picnic with Furoshiki
Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya (唐草屋)

29 Responses to “Kyoto Furoshiki Store Karakusaya”

  1. kat says:

    I always try to use our furoshiki whenever we go on a picnic too, though ours isn’t too big, just big enough to wrap the bento boxes. Very eco-friendly post!

  2. Hi! Love your Furoshiki post. I’ve been working on a similar sake bottle wrapping article for urban sake. I was really amazed to see the selection of beautiful furoshiki they have at that shop. The selection is obviously much more limited here in New York. It was especially fun to see them wrapping the odd shape sake bottles. Great job!

    Thanks!
    Timothy

  3. P-T says:

    Wow I love this post. It’s nice to read about peripherals of Japanese culinary culture. Love this!

  4. Peko Peko says:

    Hi kat,
    I had not used a furoshiki for a picnic before either. Paku bought the one we used at Karakusaya and it is very beautiful, high quality and not very expensive. You are very right, the furoshiki is very eco-friendly. I see people at the supermarket using them instead of disposable grocery bags more and more. I have decided to start using them for more than tablecloths.

    Hello UrbanSake.com
    Glad you enjoyed the article! I checked your site, you haven’t published the article that you are working on yet? The selection at Karakusaya is good, but it is just a fraction of those produced by the parent company!

    Hello P-T
    Thank you. Yes, there are A LOT of ‘peripherals’ in Japanese/Kyoto culinary culture. I think it would be good to do some more articles on this theme. Is there anything that you would like to learn about?

  5. P-T says:

    Peko Peko

    Hiya =) Can’t think off the top of my head as I sadly know very little on this subject so I don’t even know where to start! On the other hand, this will make any of your posts on this very interesting and I look forward to them!

  6. Peko Peko says:

    Hi P-T, OK, well if you get any ideas, please let us know. P

  7. diva says:

    i’ve always wanted a furoshiki but find it quite difficult to find a nice, affordable one here. those in tht shop are beautiful! love all the colours and thanks for putting up all tht info on the history of the furoshiki. i feel so enlightened now and hopefully, i can one day master the knots :)

    p/s totally agree tht it’s a way to reduce plastic bag usage

  8. PlainJane says:

    I really enjoy your blog and recipies. I HAVE to visit it everyday now. It really is great. Thanks for posting.

  9. Zach says:

    Kyoto Foodie

    Please email me. I am wondering if I could urge you to buy me some spices from Dintora (in the Nishiki Market) and ship them to me in California. I can pay you up front and pay you a convenience charge. I was in Kyoto earlier this year and bought the most amazing chili pepper spice and am about to run out, and I really want more.

    Thanks,
    Zach

  10. Angel says:

    Thanks for all this. You have encouraged me to use furoshiki for christmas this year. It is hard broken to see all those paper being ripped and thrown away every year during our big family gathering! We have a whole mountain of paper every year!!

  11. Orchid says:

    This is a great article with a lot of good information, but I think you should have mentioned that furoshiki is rarely used by Japanese people these days except for gifts, special occasions of certain types, and in certain geographic areas. You rarely see modern, average Japanese folks using furoshiki these days.

  12. Fiona says:

    Wonderful! I have to go google furoshiki now, since I doubt I’ll make it to Kyoto soon to get one.

    Fiona

  13. We just wrapped wedding presents in furoshiki this weekend! When friends visited from Japan two years ago, we asked them to bring piles of furoshiki for us, so we have a beautiful selection now.

  14. Carolyn Jung says:

    My brother and sister-in-law brought me back an adorable furoshiki from Japan earlier this year. It has my favorite childhood character on it _ Snoopy. I was at a loss as to what to do with it because _ well _ I admit I don’t go on picnics very often. I thought about having it framed, but would that be appropriate to do? Seeing your photos also makes me realize I could wrap up a box or bottle in it, and just place it on a table as a piece of art.

  15. mishkaa says:

    i am obsessed with bento, and i proudly wrap my bento lunches with cute patterned furoshiki that i got from the discounted japanese store (intentionally brought for my kiddy sister).
    it does bring alot of attention to my colleagues at work,
    some thought it looked like kindergarten lunchbox, hehehe.
    i would love to get a hand on the japanese traditional motif,
    its really hard to find it here in my country.

  16. claire says:

    there is a nice diagram of all the different wrapping methods using furoshiki here
    http://japansugoi.com/wordpress/do-you-know-how-to-use-traditional-japanese-furoshiki/

  17. Jacky says:

    I’m new here and to bento and furoshiki. Wondering if anyone can tell me what the woven “plate”, for lack of a better, term is called. I’ve been trying to figure out what will give the non flat items a better base in the wrapped furoshiki and have just stumbled on these pictures. What term do I use to search?

  18. Peko-P says:

    Hello Jacky,
    Welcome and thank you for stopping by. That is just the bento cover you are seeing. It’s not actually a plate, and not actually a product or something that you can search for — and find on the web. Does that help?

  19. Laura says:

    Hi. I’ve been trying to find the Furoshiki Store Karakusaya in google map but when I drag the little man on the pinpoint that kyoto foodie shows on the map, I cannot see the storefront of the picture above, while if I search it in google map by myself it shows a different address and a different store front (much smaller). Has it moved? Does anybody know? Thanks.

  20. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Laura,

    Karakusaya moved to the current location at the end of January 2009. So, the image in Google Map street view is outdated. What is currently seen in the Google Map is the garage at Karakusaya’s parent company.

    The new location is very, very beautiful. It is spacious and bright. The storefront photo that you see in the article above is the new location.

  21. Laura says:

    Thank you Peko peko,

    I found it and bought 3 furoshiki. The quality of the furoshiki here is far better than in other shops and prices are very reasonable.
    Tha manager is also very nice. Thank you again.

  22. Jenn says:

    Thank you Kyoto foodie for making such informative posts. It looks great. I see on the post and responses that the furoshiki prices are quite reasonable and not too expensive. Is it possible to give me an idea in actual pricing (like maybe a range of starting prices)….
    Would really love to know. Thanks!

  23. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Jenn, Ahhh.. Just off the top of my head…I bought a really beautiful and very high quality furoshiki at Karakusaya the other day for like 800 yen or so. It was small, for a bento box. For the larger, standard size furoshiki (the size seen in the videos), I think they are like 2,000 to 3,000 yen ($20 to $30). That is for the best quality available in Japan, I think. Then they have more and more expensive ones, depending on the size, material and dyeing process from like 5,000 yen up to 12,000 yen (about $50 to $120) — the high end being for silk with hand painting/dyeing.

  24. Peko Peko says:

    Oh, Laura,

    I didn’t see your reply. Sorry! Glad you have a good experience at Karakusaya. Yes, you are right. The quality is excellent and the prices are reasonable.

    Kakefuda is also great, but they don’t offer traditional designs, just their own modern ones. Kakefuda makes their furoshiki from start to finish, under one roof as they say.

    Check out the Kyoto Furoshiki Stores topic on OpenKyoto Kyoto Support:
    http://openkyoto.com/kyoto-support/topic/kyoto-furoshiki-stores

  25. Jenn says:

    Peko Peko,
    Thank you so much for the information. Wow, that was a quick response!

  26. [...] exhibition was held upstairs from Karakusaya, one of Kyoto’s oldest furoshiki makers. Kyoto Foodie has a great article and videos from Karakusaya on how to tie various items and make bags. You [...]

  27. diva says:

    I read this when you first posted about it and now i’m back because these furoshiki are just beautiful. Is there no way to buy these online?

  28. john west says:

    hi, do you have a shop in Tokyo please?

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